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Calderon's picture

New genres are created daily toexpress the time people live in. The genre in today’s world is technology.Within this new genre people have found a way to express themselves throughblogs. A blog is a place in which a group of individuals produce an ongoingnarrative. It is created for different communities to come together and expressany opinion on a political, social, economic, or emotional topic they mightfeel strong about. One of the main characteristics of a blog is the ability tomake the readers feel part of a community they can contribute to by writing. Blogginghas become firmly established as a web based communications tool. A communitythat has a leader that is in charge of creating a place that expresses orreflects current social beliefs.

Karl Polanyi argues on “The Great Transformation” that what defines people are the social activitiesthey are engage in.  Polanyi arguesthat people act to preserve their social standard. Polanyi believes thateconomy started in primitive and pre-industrial societies with the purpose ofcreating a community. He believes that reciprocity (produced goods an give themto the chief) and redistribution (the chief gives goods back to the community)are the roots of economy and, and thereforeof social life. Blogs work exactly the way Polanyi’s example of how people aredefined through social life. Blogs usually have one single author who createsthe blog and members contribute to its development. The author takes the roleof chief and waits for the users to give as much as they want to and heorganizes and improves the blog. The author of the blog also has a vision ofwhat type of community he wants to have and creates the means for thatcommunity to become real.

A author that understands what a blog is; creates and providesarticles, and topics that are controversial so a diversity of bloggers join thediscussion and engage in an exchange of thoughts.  The purpose of these open spaces is not changed someoneelse’s view, but rather to make them aware of new interesting ideas. Forexample, a blog that is meant to welcome people who are interested in political,economic, social issues. This blog is an example of how a blog is not ahomogeneous place since the author tries to provide articles that are globallycontroversial. It has a section in Spanish for the Spanish speakers and sectionin English for tourist that might want to visit the country. This type of blogis not intended to be for one community, but for many who are interested tofind out how people who live in or out of Guatemala think. One does not have tobe a Guatemalan to be part of or even be interested in Guatemala since it hasan international section that talks about global issues.  The author of this community providesthe necessary tools for readers to feel welcome and participate. This makes theblog successful, therefore attractive to other users to join it.

In contrast to thistype of diverse blog, there are live-journals and some websites that are not soopen to discussion and often block by the users so even those who are memberscannot see. This websites and live-journals should not be under the category ofblogs, since they are not open to new comers. Live-journals often block andlimit others users to see postings. If a new user cannot see the previouspostings members are writing how can he enter such community? Well, people whoare interested in open discussions often avoid this blogs, since they do notgenerate new ideas, but instead they only deal with emotional topics.Live-journals shouldn’t be under the category of blogs since they only havemostly one topic to explore and even if they don’t how can new users know whenthey are treated as outsiders. Another problem with live-journals is that new users have to requestpermission to look at the postings and being accepted is not always the case.

Furthermore, there are other blogs in which the author writes astory that is not debatable or controversial. This creates a blog in which astory is told and the readers can only admire and appreciate the talent of theauthor, but not create or generate new ideas.  For instance, this blog tellsgreat stories, but they are not arguable or challenging to the reader. Theresponses to the author gets are more of a compliment, rather than interestingideas to think about. This does not make the readers welcome it makes thereader feel as if this place for story telling. This type of blog goes againstthe purpose of blogs. Blogs work towards an ongoing narrative in whichdifferent users can contribute to by helping to shape the story.

A blog should be like Polanyi’s example of tribe. There should be anauthor that takes the form of a chief who provides a variety of topics that thereaders can contribute to. This blog welcomes many users to create a globalspace for people coming from all places. It should not be place in which many of the postings are locked or inwhich there are only a few stories the readers can compliment, but rather itshould be an open arena for ideas to be discussed.



Polanyi, Karl “The GreatTransformation”


Anne Dalke's picture

Defining with "should"


It's been so interesting to me, in this round of papers, to collect such a range of definitions of what a blog is. Claire, for example, says that its purpose is to connect the writer with other people, and that in in doing so, it creates community. Your definition--"Blogs work towards an ongoing narrative in which different users can contribute by helping to shape the story"--is a little more open-ended than hers.

What isn't open-ended, though, is your instance that your definition is the only viable one. It's really this word "should" which is getting you into trouble (again). As in: "live-journals should not be under the category of blogs"; as in "a blog should be like Polanyi's example of tribe"; as in "there should be an author that takes the form of a chief," as in a blog "should be an open arena for ideas to be discussed."

I think you have come up with a very acute description of what the sort of blog you value should look like (I think it's the sort of blog I prefer myself): one where readers feel welcomed, into a site that is not "homogenous," a site where they have come, not to "admire and appreciate the talent of the author," but rather to become aware of new, interesting ideas, and participate in shaping the discourse. My challenge to you would be whether, in being so proscriptive about what a blog should be, you are actually writing the sort of blog you want to be reading.

I was also struck by your using Polyani's economic theories about "reciprocity and redistribution" as models for what happens in blogging. I'm just back from a marvelous writing conference @ Bard College, where Lewis Hyde spoke of his idea of "gift-giving" as an alternative to commodity-based culture, a vision of open exchange that isn't commercial, but erotic, that keeps the gift in play. That sounds more like the internet to me!

P.S. You still are having trouble w/ posting clean sentences. Please use the "W" button to transfer text from the Word document where you wrote it; then the words won't run together as they do, above.